5 things for September 12: Florence, Syria, Catholic Church, New Hampshire, whales

Posted at 4:08 AM, Sep 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-12 06:08:06-04

You can stop to take in the iconic outdoor scenes in Florence, Italy. But don’t take a bite of your gelato as you gaze. You could get fined $581. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Hurricane Florence

It’s scary enough that the National Weather Service has called Florence a “storm of a lifetime.” Now, there’s also the absolutely terrifying prospect that the Category 4 storm will stall out as it approaches the Carolina coast Friday. Forecasters say it could churn from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Charleston, South Carolina, for days, bringing maximum rain, high winds and destruction.

Florence is one of the strongest hurricanes on the eastern seaboard in decades, and more than 1 million people are under mandatory evacuation orders in the Carolinas and Virginia. About 30 million people across the Southeast will be affected, if the forecast holds. You can track Florence here and get live updates.  Also:

• Learn the four factors that make Florence extremely dangerous;

• Find out why coastal communities should fear the storm surge;

• Discover the startling stats that show Florence’s power;

• Learn why wherever Florence hits, its impact will be far-reaching; and

• Don’t forget about the other storms out there, including Tropical Storm Olivia, which is closing in on Hawaii.

As coastal residents nailed up plywood before heading inland, President Trump praised the government’s Hurricane Maria response last year, calling it “an incredible, unsung success,” despite a death toll estimated at nearly 3,000 people.

2. Syria

The US is warning Russia and the Syrian regime against more airstrikes in Syria. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley warned them that there would be “dire consequences” if they continue airstrikes on Idlib, the last rebel-held area in Syria. She promised the US would respond to any use of chemical weapons, though Defense Secretary James Mattis declined to say whether the US would take military action. Syrian regime forces, backed up by the Russians, are trying to retake Idlib and essentially end the rebellion after more than seven years of war.

3. Catholic Church

Washington’s embattled archbishop says he’ll meet with Pope Francis soon to talk about stepping down. Cardinal Donald Wuerl faces increasing scrutiny in two areas: how he handled abusive priests while he headed the Diocese of Pittsburgh and what he may have known about abuse allegations against his predecessor, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Wuerl said the Pope asked him to consider his best course of action “as we face new revelations of the extent of the horror of the clergy abuse of children and the failures in episcopal oversight.” Francis plans to meet tomorrow at the Vatican with leaders of the US church to talk more about the sex abuse crisis.

4. New Hampshire primaries

No matter what voters decide, history will be made in New Hampshire this fall. Voters in the state’s 1st Congressional District will either elect the state’s first openly gay or first African-American congressman. Democrats picked Chris Pappas, who’s gay, as their nominee, while Republicans chose Eddie Edwards, a black former police chief and a Navy veteran. This district regularly swings between the two major parties and backed President Trump in 2016.

5. Whale sanctuary

Picture it: A place in the ocean where whales can swim free from fear of attacks from man. Who would be against that? Actually, a lot of people. A coalition of pro-whaling nations shot down a proposal to create a South Atlantic whale sanctuary during a conference in Brazil. Japan, Norway and Russia were among the nations that voted against the proposal, which also aimed to increase the whale stock and curb the “severe exploitation” by foreign whaling fleets in the South Atlantic. The measure’s defeat was strongly condemned by international conservation groups and animal rights activists.


“It is incomprehensible …”

Elizabeth Smart, decrying the Utah parole board’s decision to release one of the people who abducted her 16 years ago


Printer power

Who needs factories? Volkswagen says it will soon start making some car parts with 3D printers.

Walk of honor

Firefighters across the country remembered their comrades who died on 9/11 by climbing 110 flights of stairs.

Eagle eye

A 9/11 remembrance memorial in Minnesota got a symbolic boost when a bald eagle swooped in for a bit.

Dance of life

Meet the young cancer survivor whose backward leg allows her to dance.


You’ll wanna put down your phone for this

It’s Apple iPhone event day. So, what can we expect when Tim Cook steps onto the stage at Apple headquarters in California? Here’s a preview.


Makin’ bacon

The long run of “Adventure Time” came to an end this month. But you can still enjoy the cartoon’s tasty bacon pancakes. (Click to view.)